Virtual Sanity

Friday, 7 January 2011, 19:42 | Category : General
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I’m not sure what Jay Kay (of Jamiroquai fame) meant when he sang about ‘virtual insanity’, and I’m not entirely sure he’d appreciate me mis-presenting his lyrics to kick of a blog which will undoubtedly also include the phrase ‘cloud computing’, but whatever it was I can say, with (brief) experience, that there is nothing insane about virtualisation.

One week in to a new role at a small “virtual” business and I’ve finally found myself practising what I’d been preaching for the last five years at least – my day-to-day job has quite literally gone “to the cloud”, to use a phrase coined in the recent and rather irritating/entertaining [delete as applicable] new Microsoft TV ads.

I had six great years in technology agency PR, working for some great agencies and a string of major brands, but whilst I found myself extolling the virtues of remote, flexible, virtual, mobile (etc. etc.) I actually have very little experience of actually doing it. In fact, if I’m honest, I wondered if anyone was, as it remains (understandably so in many cases) that many large businesses still struggle to get their heads around the cloud, let alone in it. As my well-educated accountant housemate questioned over a pint in Balham last night “what actually is the point of it (the cloud)?”

My answer, and massive endorsement of virtual/cloud computing, came I realised, not as a result of writing countless messaging documents and media training sessions, but as a result of actually doing it. And only for a week!

As I write I am sat in my home-office (IKEA table and chair) working on a single laptop and an iPhone. On both devices I have seamless, secure and real-time synchronised access to emails and calendars, the entire PR Network filing system, a separate database of clients, and a further system which contains 500+ Associates. Combine that with technology like Skype and Instant Messenger, and I have everything I need to do my job, with absolutely none of the following:

• Painful and time consuming trips on the Northern line
• Unnecessary team meetings
• Production of documents to track the above
• Idle chat about nothing at all that means you end up working until 7pm
• An umbrella

The business benefits of virtual working and cloud computing are easy to understand – from costs to scalability – but I can now see the benefits it brings to the employee and the business… and I think I’d struggle to go back. Granted, every now and then you need a bit of face-to-face time, but why do it in an office when you’ve got coffee shops, bars, clubs, galleries, even parks that could offer a better environment?

Fingers crossed more organisations take this brave step, especially as businesses like ours continue to challenge and win business from the larger more traditional players.

Thank you to everyone for being so welcoming this week, and I look forward to speaking to, hearing from, and even meeting you in person in the coming weeks and months. After all, location is not an issue… bar the need for a plug socket every couple of hours!

Russell

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